The Radev Collection – A teenager’s view

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 by The Collection  | Category: Events 
  • Mattei Radev (right) with good friend E.M. Forster

    Mattei Radev (right) with good friend E.M. Forster

On Friday 11th February we opened the doors to The Radev Collection – Bloomsbury and Beyond. Here is what Ellen Lavelle of the Young Journalists Association thought of it.

“In 1950 Mattei Radev entered Britain by stowing away on a cargo ship heading in from Istanbul having escaped his homeland Bulgaria. Sixty two years later and on February 11th, 2012 his vast collection will be entering The Collection, likely via a heavily secured van with lots of padding inside.”  The Collection’s website

Last Friday, The Collection in Lincoln opened its doors to its latest exhibition: The Radev Collection. A stark contrast to the gallery’s usual minimalist, contemporary exhibitions, The Radev Collection displays the private collections of Mattei Radev – an escapee from communist Bulgaria -, Eddy Sackville-West – the 5th Lord Sackville – and Eardley Knollys – a very successful art dealer.

As a private collection, the works have spent the best part of the last century lining the walls of the gentlemen’s shared home in central London. It was only last year that the paintings were collected from the house in order to be displayed to the general public.

“It was so exciting,” says Maggie Warren, Collections Access Assistant – one of the lucky few that actually got to go to the house. “I didn’t know what to expect at all. It was a very friendly house and the paintings were all over the place. Most of them were on the walls but some of them were propped up in odd corners.”

Walking through the Radev Collection, it isn’t hard to imagine these paintings hanging in someone’s house as, instead of the modern works usually displayed in The Collection, they are all very traditional, usually depicting landscapes or domestic scenes – the sort of typical scene that can often be seen hanging over someone’s fireplace.

“This exhibition was actually never meant to happen,” says Collection curator Julian Machin. “They (Radev, Knollys and Sackville-West) would never have dreamed, individually, of its happening and yet here we are, in a proper gallery, with what seems to be an awful amount of people coming out on a very cold night staring delightedly at the pictures and it would just fill them with wonder and excitement.”

It is interesting to consider the private pieces of art we keep in our private lives and how we may think of them differently if we saw them hanging on a wall of a gallery, instead of above a sofa or next to a bookcase. What would we notice about them? Would they seem less personal, more clinical?

It is at times like this that I always remember that art is not simply about what sort of feeling the artist themselves wanted convey at that particular moment, but also the way the viewer interprets that feeling, at whatever moment they happen to encounter it.

Although the last of the friends, Mattei Radev, died in 1991, a tiny part of their passion lives on in the Radev Collection, allowing others to share their enjoyment and perhaps this, this sharing of ideas and images, is what art is all about.

The exhibition will last until May 7th and admission is free.

Ellen Lavelle
Priory LSST Newsroom

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